Professor Iain McLean on the anniversary of the disasters, natural and political, at Aberfan

Friday 21 October, eight days from today, will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the worst natural disasters in modern British history: the collapse of a colliery spoil tip onto the town of Aberfan that lead to 144 deaths, including more than 100 children who were killed when their school was crushed by the land slide.

Iain McLean has been involved with the disaster since it happened. In 1966, as an Oxford undergraduate, he organised a collection among students for the Disaster Fund. He was (and has remained) outraged when, in 1968, the UK government illegally forced the charitable Disaster Fund to pay the costs of removing the remaining Aberfan tips. In 1996, with the Aberfan records being about to be released under the ’30-year rule’ by the UK National Archives, he resumed his work, resulting in his book with Martin Johnes, Aberfan: government and disasters (Welsh Academic Press 2000), he has maintained a website on their findings with links to the archives, at

As the anniversary approaches, Iain has been asked to comment by S4C, the BBC and Channel 4 News. You can read more about Iain's involvement with Aberfan by clicking here:

Professor Iain McLean is Professor of Politics, Official Fellow, Nuffield College